021. Two Lies and a Truth about Body-Positivity Culture
I saw a picture yesterday. It broke my heart. I wonder if it will break yours too…
A wellness organization set up a table in the quad of a college campus. Their sign read something along the lines of “Come smash the scale and eat a doughnut.”
They had hammers and old scales you could destroy and then boxes of beautiful, instagrammable doughnuts you could eat *shame-free* right after you smashed those toxic number tellers to pieces!!
A genuine, well-meaning approach to bring awareness and inspire body-positivity at first glance. However, I want to point out a few things that missed the mark, perpetuated some ED myths, and broke my heart.
A hammer to a scale no more disrupts the power of an eating disorder, than throwing all the “junk food” out of the pantry does for someone who binges. This is also true for someone who doesn’t meet diagnostic criteria for an ED and would simply mark “complicated” as their status to their relationship with weight and food. Those measures seek to demonize the thing that gives some of us security (the scale) and in the same breath *magically* fix the relationship with the food you demonize (sugary food) into something you now celebrate.
I call bs on it.
Switching practices and food groups from good to bad and bad to good is just a different side of the same coin. It’s continuing to categorize and define what health and wellness is with a really, really small lens.
Smashing a scale and eating a doughnut in one fell swoop can this perpetuate the ongoing myth that if one just stops weighing herself or restricting calories or staying on the elliptical for x amount of time and instead blindlessly adopts all food groups as okay, poof, her disordered relationship with her food and body will be gone. There is no magic to recovery. It’s hard work and to make it seem otherwise is belittling of the suffering that one can experience inside of the lonely walls of their disorder.
Here’s a few tweaks that could have happened to make that a more nuanced, less binary experience that seems more reflective and engaging with a woman and her story with food and weight.
Invite women (and men…we aren’t the only ones who struggle with this) to smash the scales. Then give them a great journaling sheet that they can do on their own with a few questions that seeks to explore their relationship with the scale and how it affects their self-worth and self-esteem.
Ask them about the first time they felt shame getting weighed?
Ask them about how they have chosen what a “good weight” is and how they came to decide what a “bad weight” is?
Ask them to get curious if they could be misguided on those numbers.
Ask them about how their day is affected when they weigh themselves and see a bad number?
How is their day affected when they see a “good” number?
Ask them if this is what they want for themselves and if not, how they can make some subtle changes?
Bring the doughnuts to campus…just on another day where there are no scales present! And give everyone who comes to the table a handout or a link with a video because #technology that teaches people how to practice mindfulness when eating. Oh my gosh, can you imagine how incredible that would be to invite men and women to mindfully eat this sweet?! How to really taste it and enjoy it, how to listen to the cues of their body, how to notice what it’s like to have the crumbs on your fingers and the texture of the doughnut in your mouth, how to stop when you’re full. That gets me excited! And what a skill you could be empowering people with that can follow them for life!
And to all of you who are fighting well and hard to have a better, more whole relationship with your body, and even those of you who feel stuck and lonely, you’re not alone. The road is slow and there are no shortcuts or fast tracks. And if I can walk the road of healing, I believe wholeheartedly, you can too.